(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Kata-gami : Japanese stencils in the collection of the Cooper-Hewitt Museum"

Kata-gamk Japanese Stencils 



"in the Collection of 

\he Cooper-Hewitt Museum 



5 



Hi 
5 



a 



%M~r* 



!S 



I 



The Smithsonian Institution's 
National Museum of Design 



~U.aIIU. : Ji/i X OtCIK, 















Kata-gami: Japanese Stencils 



m 



in the Collection of 

the Cooper-Hewitt Museum 



m 



The Smithsonian Institution's 
National Museum of Design 



© 1979 by the Smithsonian Institution 

All rights reserved 

Library of Congress Catalogue No. 79-87725 



VLHOS 
cH/v/\ 




Foreword 




The collecting of Japanese sten- 
cils used in the process of dyeing 
fabrics is one of those rare excep- 
tions in which the means to the 
end is treasured as much as the 
final product. In most cases 
also, the stencils are the only 
surviving documents; the fab- 
rics have disappeared with 
everyday use. 

The Cooper-Hewitt Museum is 
fortunate in having an extensive 
collection of over 400 kata-gami 
(stencils) ranging from purely 
geometric forms to graceful 
compositions based on nature. 
They show the Japanese genius 
for pattern, and are exciting to 
contemporary eyes because of 
their craftsmanship and ele- 
gance, and the strength and 
timelessness of the designs. 

It is a pleasure for the Museum 
to publish this catalogue to 
coincide with a nation-wide 
festival honoring the extraordi- 
nary cultural contributions of 
Japan. Its publication was made 
possible through the interest 
and kindness of Karen Johnson 
Keland to whom we are deeply 
thankful. 



Lisa Taylor 

Director 

Cooper-Hewitt Museum 



© 1979 by the Smithsonian Institution 

All tights teserved 

Libtaty of Congtcss Catalogue No. 79-87725 




Foreword 



The collecting of Japanese sten- 
cils used in the process of dyeing 
fabrics is one of those fate excep- 
tions in which the means to the 
end is treasured as much as the 
final ptoduct. In most cases 
also, the stencils ate the only 
surviving documents; the fab- 
rics have disappeared with 
everyday use. 

The Cooper-Hewitt Museum is 
fortunate in having an extensive 
collection of over 400 kata-gami 
(stencils) ranging from purely 
geometric forms to gtaceful 
compositions based on natute. 
They show the Japanese genius 
for pattern, and are exciting to 
contempotaty eyes because of 
their craftsmanship and ele- 
gance, and the strength and 
timelessness of the designs. 

It is a pleasure for the Museum 
to publish this catalogue to 
coincide with a nation-wide 
festival honoring the extraordi- 
nary cultural contributions of 
Japan. Its publication was made 
possible through the interest 
and kindness of Katen Johnson 
Keland to whom we ate deeply 
thankful. 



Lisa Taylot 

Director 

Cooper-Hewitt Museum 




m 



Kata-gami is the Japanese term 
for the paper stencils that are 
used to transfer patterns to fab- 
ric for dyeing. The technique, 
one of the oldest in Japan, is 
practiced today on a limited 
scale. Precise dating of the sten- 
cils is difficult because tradi- 
tional patterns and methods 
were repeated through the cen- 
turies, but it appears that most 
of those preserved in the 
Cooper-Hewitt collections date 
from the nineteenth or early 
twentieth century. Although 
only a few Japanese craftsmen 
remain who have the skill to cut 
stencils as elegant and refined as 
the historical examples, there is 
currently a movement to train 
artisans to keep the craft alive at 
a highly sophisticated level. 



The center of stencil cutting in 
Japan has always been the city of 
Suzuka, in Mie Prefecture near 
the Bay of Ise. The stencil 
dealers' commercial interests 
were protected by the Tokugawa 
shoguns, who had risen to 
power in this area in 1615 and 
who held the reins of govern- 
ment in Japan until 1867. The 
dealers were permitted by the 
Tokugawa rulers to^.ell stencils 
freely throughout the country, 
an important consideration as 
there was no dyeing industry in 
Suzuka (Kyoto and Tokyo were 
the centers for dyeworks). In 
order to maintain their monop- 
oly, Suzuka dealers encouraged 
the cutters to be secretive about 
methods and designs, which 
were handed down from genera- 
tion to generation. 

The remarkably varied designs 
include free interpretations of 
nature, patterns derived from 
objects in daily life, and mo- 
tifs based on centuries-old 
formulas. Some motifs have 
undergone so radical a trans- 
formation from reality that the 
abstracted and simplified form 
bears little relation to actual ap- 
pearance. For example, the tor- 
toise, symbol of longevity, is 
reduced to a hexagonal outline 
for a fabric pattern. The sym- 
bolism is understood in Japan 
and enters into the wearer's 
choice of fabric design. 



The traditional motifs of the 
stencils relate closely to the 
hereditary crests (mon) of 
Japanese families. The similar- 
ity undoubtedly arises from the 
coincidence of their common 
source in the Japanese vocab- 
ulary of symbolic forms. Crests 
became an almost essential part 
of the costumes of all classes in 
the nineteenth century; by ex- 
tension, it was appropriate that 
patterns used on clothing fabric 
referred to these meaningful 
and basic design motifs. 

The paper used for making 
kata-gami is made of fibers from 
the bark of the mulberry tree. 
The intended design deter- 
mines the choice of the weight 
of paper — a very fine pattern 
calls for a thin sheet, but for a 
bold stripe or large design a 
heavy sheet is preferred. The 
paper must be strong enough to 
resist expansion or contraction 
during use. Stencil papers are 
normally about 9 by 16 inches 
(19 by 35 centimeters), a size 
dictated by the standard width 
of the fabric. As patterns tended 
to be larger in the late nine- 
teenth and early twentieth cen- 
turies, the stencil papers be- 
came proportionately larger. 
Examples of several sizes are il- 
lustrated here. 



The paper sheets are treated 
with the juice of just-ripened 
persimmons that has been aged 
sufficiently to make it viscous. 
The use of the astringent per- 
simmon juice is an ingenious 
method for making the paper 
stronger and water resistant. 
The sheets are then layered in 
groups of two or three, with the 
layers placed at right angles to 
each other as in plywood, and 
held together by the sticky per- 
simmon juice. Next they are 
hung from the ceiling of a 
closed room for several days and 
smoked with burning sawdust 
to harden the persimmon coat- 
ing. The paper emerges from 
this process slightly stiff but 
still pliable. 



Ordinarily at least seven or 
eight sheets of paper, placed on 
a board, are cut at one time, 
each sheet being oiled slightly 
to facilitate the movement of 
the knife blade. The cutting 
begins at the upper left corner. 
Obviously, particular attention 
must be given to the perimeter 
because the perfect matching of 
the repeat depends upon precise 
cutting of these areas. Fre- 
quently the pattern repeats in 
both directions. 

The stencils are cut with knives 
of various sizes and shapes that 
have different functions. One of 
the oldest and most refined 
techniques iskiri-bori, by which 
minute holes are patiently cut 
with a rotating motion. The 
tool, a type of awl with a very 
small, sharp, semi-circular 
blade, is held upright and 
turned with the left hand. The 
thumb and fingers of the right 
hand direct the position of the 
blade. It is possible with this 
technique to create a design so 
subtle that only by holding the 
stencil up to the light can it be 
seen fully. 



The blade used for tsuki-bori is 
narrow, thin, and flat with an 
angled edge. The cutter pushes 
it forward, the cutting edge di- 
rected away from him. This cut- 
ting is done on a board with a 
small hole near the center, the 
cutter manipulates the sheets 
over the hole to facilitate the 
piercing of all layers of paper in 
one movement. 

In hiki-bori, a similar blade is 
used, but the knife is drawn 
toward the cutter. It is the 
method employed for making 
striped patterns. 

The tool used for ichimai-zuki 
consists of a small, thin, rect- 
angular steel plate with a sharp- 
ened edge, set vertically into a 
handle. The cutting is done by 
pushing the blade down into 
the stack of paper. The blades 
vary in shape— straight, 
curved, or fluted. Where the 
motif is doubled, a twin-bladed 
tool is sometimes used. 

Dogu-bori employs a blade 
forged in the shape of a pattern, 
for instance, a triangle, a 
square, a flower petal, or a leaf. 
The cut is made by thrusting 
(punching) the knife. While the 
tool is very efficient, it curtails 
variations in the pattern. 



When the design is such that 
large areas must be cut away, 
the stencil is strengthened by 
peeling apart two of the layers 
that have been almost com- 
pletely cut and inserting a mesh 
of thin silk threads between 
them (the use of human hair is 
legendary). The two layers are 
then stuck together again and 
the remainder of the cutting 
carefully finished without dis- 
turbing the net. Thus, even the 
most fragile and delicate design 
is sustained by the net, which is 
so fine that it leaves no mark on 
the dyed fabric. The net is ef- 
fective in keeping stripes in 
alignment and in securing mi- 
nute parts of the design during 
the stenciling process. 



Complex designs often call for 
two stencils, for if the perfora- 
tions are too close together, the 
intermediate spaces cannot sus- 
tain the cut areas. In this case 
there is a main stencil and a 
secondary one for the remainder 
of the pattern. Usually the de- 
sign is transmitted to only one 
side of the fabric, except for un- 
lined cotton kimono for sum- 
mer wear where the pattern will 
be seen on both sides. The care 
demanded in registering the 
stencils on top of as well as next 
to each other is extremely great. 
To aid in achieving registration, 
a pigment (not a dye) is brushed 
through the stencil onto the 
fabric to act as a guideline for 
the second stencil. 

Dyeing with stencils is by and 
large a resist process. The sten- 
cil is placed on the fabric, which 
has been laid out, smoothed, 
and straightened on long 
boards. A dye-resistant rice 
paste is spread with a bamboo or 
wooden spatula over the stencil. 
The paste penetrates through 
the openings to the fabric and 
blocks out the areas that are not 
to be dyed. The stencil is then 
lifted and moved to the adjacent 
portion of the fabric, and the 
process repeated over and over. 
When the resist is washed away 
after the fabric has been dip- 
ped into the dye, the pattern 
emerges in white against a col- 
ored background. The dark 
areas of the stencil are dark in 
the finished fabric. 



Other methods are used to add 
more colors or to amplify the 
basic design after the initial pat- 
tern has been stenciled onto the 
fabric with the resist paste. For 
large areas, thickened dyes are 
brushed on through additional 
stencils. Smaller elements of the 
design are hand-painted with 
the thickened dye directly onto 
the fabric in selected places not 
previously covered. (This is a 
variation of theyuzen method of 
applying the design to the fab- 
ric. Yuzen is a completely free- 
hand process in which even the 
resist paste is applied by hand 
rather than through a stencil.) 
Once the design has been com- 
pleted on the fabric, the cloth is 
steamed to set the color, and 
after that, the resist is washed 
away as usual. With this meth- 
od, several colors can be ap- 
plied and set with one steaming. 



Whatever the method used, the 
ingenuity of the designer in 
contriving the pattern in such a 
way that the components fit to- 
gether precisely edge to edge 
without detracting from the 
beautiful, over-all effect, com- 
bines with the skill of the dyer 
who manipulates the stencil so 
that the design flows without 
interruption throughout the 
length of the fabric. 

Stencil-dyed fabrics have most 
frequently been used for kimo- 
no, and there are many consid- 
erations besides taste that dic- 
tate the pattern and color of 
kimono fabric. For instance, as 
people age, it is expected that 
the number and brightness of 
colors and the size of the pattern 
in their kimono should de- 
crease. The time of day and the 
season determine the selection 
of a design; one would not, for 
instance, wear a kimono with a 
dragonfly motif in the winter. 
The narrow width of the fabric 
and the unchanging style and 
cut of the kimono also impose 
limitations on the designer. 



Stencil dyeing came into prom- 
inence because it could be 
adapted to large-scale produc- 
tion of an enormous variety of 
patterns on cotton fabrics for 
clothing and household items 
used by ordinary people. Wth 
the increasing popularity of 
western clothing in Japan, the 
demand for these fabrics has de- 
clined. The survival of stencils 
in public collections like that of 
the Cooper-Hewitt Museum 
helps to stimulate interest in 
preserving this fine tradition of 
craftsmanship. 



Elaine Evans Dee 




Sparrows 

20. 8 x 35 cm. 

Gift of Helen Snyder, 

1976-103-14 

None of rhe sparrows in the 
stencil is exactly like another, 
nor do any relate to each other in 
precisely the same attitude. As 
explained in a Japanese folk 
tale, The Sparrow with the Cut 
Tongue, this modest bird exem- 
plifies the virtue of repaying 
one's obligations, a quality 
highly respected in Japan. 




Dragonflies 



19. 1 x 35 cm. 

Gift of Helen Snyder, 

1976-103-1 1 

As two of the dragonfly's several 
Japanese names mean "victory 
insect," warriors often adopted 
it as a crest motif. Now, how- 
ever, this design might be con- 
sidered appropriate for a child's 
kimono because chasing drag- 
onflies is a favorite childhood 
amusement. 




Heron, Lotus, Marsh Grasses, 
and Water 

31.2 x 19.7 cm. 
Gift of Helen Snyder, 
1976-103-13 

The lotus is the foremost 
Buddhist symbol for enlight- 
enment, supreme truth, and 
purity emerging from impurity, 
but this stencil is so painterly in 
its approach and so naturalistic 
in its composition that any 
thought of symbolism seems 
very remote. Since there is no 
provision for a repeat here, this 
stencil seems to have been made 
as a picture complete in itself. 



Rabbit Medallions and Vines 

19 x 34.7 cm. 

Gift of Helen Snyder, 

1976-103-15 

The white rabbit is an auspi- 
cious symbol embodying the 
spirit of the moon, and is as- 
sociated with the tortoise and 
the crane as a symbol of lon- 
gevity. 





Dragons in Clouds 



35.7 x77 cm. 

Gift of Helen Snyder, 

1976-103-277 

The dragon is a Chinese-in- 
spired design particularly as- 
sociated with Zen Buddhism. It 
is one of the four auspicious 
symbols together with the uni- 
corn, phoenix, and tortoise. 
Dragons were thought to leap 
through the heavens, control- 
ling the thunder and summon- 
ing the rain. 



Leafy Vine 

18 x 35.4 cm. 

Gift of Helen Snyder, 

1976-103-65 

The variations of the scrolling 
vine pattern are endless. It is 
similar to the western ara- 
besque, and is most often used 
in combination with other 
forms. 




Bracken and Hemlock Twigs 

18.7x35 cm. 

Gift of Jules R. Breuchaud, 

1962-229-2 

The pairing of bracken and 
hemlock indicates early spring. 
Not unexpectedly, the ever- 
green, along with the chrysan- 
themum, tortoise, and crane, 
was a symbol of longevity. Re- 
sistant to the wind and resilient 
beneath the snow, the evergreen 
was one of the "three compan- 
ions of the deep cold," a tra- 
ditional Chinese nomenclature 
adopted by the Japanese. The 
new shoot of bracken that 
pushes through the ground in 
spring is compared to the form 
of a fist, and hints of this 
configuration are seen in the 
threadlike tracery of this 
stencil. 




Autumn Grasses, Bush Clover, 
and Butterflies 

36.4 x 34.8 cm. 
Gift of Helen Snyder, 
1976-103-263 

The butterfly motif was often 
used for heraldic crests. War- 
riors seemed to favor its elegant 
shape and design and its carefree 
connotation, perhaps in reac- 
tion to their daily lives. 



Ml 

1 

t u 


' 




Leafy Vine 



18 x 35.4 cm. 

Gift of Helen Snyder, 

1976-103-65 

The variations of the scrolling 
vine pattern are endless. It is 
similar to the western ara- 
besque, and is most often used 
in combination with other 
forms. 




Bracken and Hemlock Twigs 

18.7 x 35 cm. 

Gift of Jules R. Breuchaud, 

1962-229-2 

The pairing of bracken and 
hemlock indicates early spring. 
Not unexpectedly, the ever- 
green, along with the chrysan- 
themum, tortoise, and crane, 
was a symbol of longevity. Re- 
sistant to the wind and resilient 
beneath the snow, the evergreen 
was one of the "three compan- 
ions of the deep cold," a tra- 
ditional Chinese nomenclature 
adopted by the Japanese. The 
new shoot of bracken that 
pushes through the ground in 
spting is compared to the form 
of a fist, and hints of this 
configuration are seen in the 
threadlike tracery of this 
stencil. 



Autumn Grasses, Bush Clover, 
and Buttetflies 

36.4 x 34.8 cm. 
Gift of Helen Snyder, 
1976-103-263 

The buttetfly motif was often 
used for heraldic crests. War- 
riors seemed to favor its elegant 
shape and design and its carefree 
connotation, perhaps in reac- 
tion to their daily lives. 





Grain Plants on a Lattice 

46.7 X35.5 cm. 
Gift of Helen Snyder, 
1976-103-264 

At first glance this design seems 
simple and straightforward, but 
when one becomes aware of the 
subtle balance and the extraor- 
dinary refinement of the cut- 
ting, the ingenuity and skill of 
the craftsman are apparent. 





LK| l > \\ 


l/ ""JmJ^IIii r ! 


iff Ur^ n T 1 r\ W 


l/j ill 1 ^R> 


T/Ti iPr* S; N 


II] t/ \ + i + 1 li 


if \ \ ^^tt"" '"ill 


j NJi ' \ -'"' w 


1 U S^L Lip l> p 


if F mttt 1 / ' N ' < 1 1 tL r 


" 1 | — H~H "i "H" -4 " I ' f 1 iif ~ "~ - " " 1 1 1 H ■] — 1 — I — 1 — J — -A -^ ,| ~^Bky. - •" ~ ~ 


W^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^m^^^K^ 


WMM 


— > L -j- 1 1 1 1 4-44 1 -- - -44-4 ■■- - TTIT — r "^ — 1 — [~ \^C'1 ' 44~~4=.-- - "" il^k^ 4 ' 4~ ^ 


j J 1 flflH^T n v\ 


.1 H I M j ~rJ^^P\ V H 


A \ \ \ tmr^\ P> \ 1 


u tL umJt \. 


LLLf t J''''"t' 'i 11 J_\ 


[li'f j-gii:f> h JCsJ W v up \ M 


, t" ^"i'.iiiii, JjlV ^11 JSsi = J 1 ; [T \ V 


|f"'" *\ i$.s v J lsi'*l ^I s l 


i^ifc^J ' ^ Wl F s h 


1 jtlll ' N 1 tt'4 ill IS 


' I+Sa| 1 I 1 I' 


^M 1 \ 1 


iM w "Tlt^- 


\wL lidf 1 r ~M 1 ' 


^L ^^1 ' ^Bk. 


^& ' hlM ^^^^^_ 


K / / ^L 1 \ ^ 1 


i\J ^r'^B j uvV Jm4 u^KL J- n4 


i ■' ^^ l.L' t Y^i \ ^"^j 


r j/'/ J # V f l\i \ ifc 


..iM^iil-_-J---------mi---/-- —-J-ALJ---- 4-4-4-1 — v — — "^ — 1-HH-H rrrr' 


--|:|f::±±::/::::::::-!!|:l^ 


. _+ jt + 4;-"J ' f Y J III IT IN J H \ ITTT T 1 1 1 1 " 


: -+-5+--4;4:-fr- — -* — -a- -4J — y — tttH -Iff ~i 1 vt — 444+ 


JJtJBlffl^^ 


E[|ffi4^^ 


■--i-i,,j7 n 5 it, JL 


Y\ ~\- W '^i-lift 


~L»'T ""S x %'W 


«'T I ^ 4- ilJ *'w'i! 


\ i Tt4t----'? ^ 


\ T kt 


ft 1 NJJ 


it 1 T-4-- ]L S _JJjI -UJJI- L... I m 






Reed Brushes and Bamboo 
Leaves 

19.3 x 34.9 cm. 
Gift of Helen Snyder, 
1976-103-101 

These brushes, that are proba- 
bly made of bamboo, are bound 
with bands ornamented with 
family crests, one with the 
interlocking comma (tomoe) 
motif, and the others with the 
melon (mokko) motif. 



^ans 




















VV^^jT /a 






^/ji 






vV> 


5^ 

i 




^.^j^ 
^ 


\l*X* 


svfo 










^y*^ 







Bamboo Leaves 



19 x 36.3 cm. 

Gift of Helen Snyder, 

1976-103-62 

Versatile, graceful, and aus- 
picious, the bamboo has played 
an important role in Japan. It is 
used in innumerable ways in 
daily life — from fences to writ- 
ing brushes. Because it keeps its 
leaves through the winter it is 
one of the "three companions of 
the deep cold" along with the 
pine and the plum blossom, 
which appears in the earliest 
days of spring. Because of its 
endurance, it is associated with 
the virtues of constancy, integ- 
rity, and honor. Because the 
royal phoenix was said to perch 
only on the branches of the 
paulownia tree and eat only the 
seed of the bamboo, it is also a 
symbol of purity and nobility. 



Pine Needle Clusters 

19.5 x 36.3 cm. 
Gift of Helen Snyder, 
1976-103-56 

The designer's viewpoint of the 
cluster has almost transformed 
it into a flower. The all-over 
pattern is remarkably delicate. 
Because pine needles stay in 
pairs even after they have 
dropped from the tree, they 
symbolize fidelity. 





trails S^Ki^Bi^^wJ 






Bamboo 

21.4x35.3 

Gift of Helen Snyder, 

1976-103-153 

In contrast to the design of 
bamboo leaves, in which a 
natural form was repeated and 
overlapped to make an abstract 
pattern, this stencil represents 
growing bamboo in an almost 
realistic fashion. 





Pine Trees and Wisteria 

37.8 x 76.5 cm. 
Gift of Helen Snyder, 
1976-103-276 

The long fronds of wisteria blos- 
soms lend themselves naturally 
to graceful and intricate de- 
signs. The great vogue for wis- 
teria occurred during the tenth 
to twelfth centuries when the 
Fujiwara clan was at the height 
of its power in Japan. Fuji- 
wara literally means "field of 
wisteria." 



Pine Needle Clusters 

19.5 x 36.3 cm. 
Gift of Helen Snyder, 
1976-103-56 

The designer's viewpoint of the 
cluster has almost transformed 
it into a flower. The all-over 
pattern is remarkably delicate. 
Because pine needles stay in 
pairs even after they have 
dropped from the tree, they 
symbolize fidelity. 







^fe^^^i 








wXl|3| 


IIM 


IP 


Wmm^ 


wiii'T 


111 


|H 




i^c^^p 


%■■ ; . 


==j| 


BlgS^lf 












^a^^^^a^^ 




WiS^fflm 






H 


('. ' > U\ x.ip' ~?- 




ISliSlP 




B 








JKffli 




\MM- 



Bamboo 

21.4x35.3 

Gift of Helen Snyder, 

1976-103-153 

In contrast to the design of 
bamboo leaves, in which a 
natural form was repeated and 
overlapped to make an abstract 
pattern, this stencil represents 
growing bamboo in an almost 
realistic fashion. 





Pine Trees and Wisteria 

37.8 X76.5 cm. 
Gift of Helen Snyder, 
1976-103-276 

The long fronds of wisteria blos- 
soms lend themselves naturally 
to graceful and intricate de- 
signs. The great vogue for wis- 
teria occurred during the tenth 
to twelfth centuries when the 
Fujiwara clan was at the height 
of its power in Japan. Fuji- 
wara literally means "field of 
wisteria." 



Peonies 

37-7 X77-5 cm. 
Gift of Helen Snyder, 
1976-103-287 

The peony is a native Asian 
plant. In China it was known as 
king of the flowers and sym- 
bolized wealth and honor. In 
Japanese lore it ranks almost as 
high as the chrysanthemum, 
paulownia, and hollyhock. 






1 H 111^^^ ^ ^11 ^ 1 1 H 1 


T^^fllf iiWwil fir 


1 [$^^ Kfr 


v&lW Vi lil I 




i lllD^*^^\l^^ llilllK ifllilv lw\i IliDk 










L2?rf w^oiT^^'F'^ ' 'wkAlmA H 


Ml 












1 1 1 W ' Vl 

1 ill ■ S/ i 


■ 1 1 II 1 «1 












\w\ iLAcM LA 




i/3 


Hyj 1 1 




^v^mk 






llll 111'- -VJ ri ixJy 

III |P81 









Iris 

38.2 x 75.5 cm. 
Gift of Helen Snyder, 
1976-103-290 

In Japan the iris has been cele- 
brated in poetry and painting 
from early times, and even now 
is honored in the iris festival 
which takes place on May 5. It 
was believed that the spring 
fragrance of iris and mugwort 
would help to drive away evil 
spirits. 




Peonies 



37-7 "77-5 cm. 
Gift of Helen Snyder, 
1976-103-287 

The peony is a native Asian 
plant. In China it was known as 
king of the flowers and sym- 
bolized wealth and honor. In 
Japanese lore it ranks almost as 
high as the chrysanthemum, 
paulownia, and hollyhock. 




Iris 

38.2 x 75.5 cm. 
Gift of Helen Snyder, 
1976-103-290 

In Japan the iris has been cele- 
brated in poetry and painting 
from early times, and even now 
is honored in the iris festival 
which takes place on May 5. It 
was believed that the spring 
fragrance of iris and mugwort 
would help to drive away evil 
spirits. 



Pine Trees and Rippling Water 

19.2 x 34.2 cm. 
Gift of Helen Snyder, 
1976-103-98 

With so many desirable associa- 
tions, it is not surprising that 
the pine tree was used as a motif 
for family crests and also in- 
spired countless patterns for the 
ornamentation of objects. The 
silhouette of an old pine tree has 
been stylized to nearly unrecog- 
nizable form in this stencil. 




£ lllll 


?* 


f 1 


1 

0\ 


W 

*» 


M i 


,* 


T ii 


f 


1 

• •< 

*5* il 


/*'sm 


IP 


«'*«*<* 


4 


iill 


llllllll 1111 ' 


^ 
^ 






alllll 


■III IF 




X * 


Jill 


IIWIIIII 



Bush Clover and Sky 



20 x 35.3 cm. 

Gift of Helen Snyder, 

1976-103-64 

Bush clover is one of the seven 
autumn plants. The abstracted 
cloud shapes indicate that the 
vertical lines of the background 
represent rain, a familiar cli- 
matic condition of the autum- 
nal season. 




Grape Leaves and Clouds 

46.5 x 35.2 cm. 
Gift of Helen Snyder, 
1976-103-267 

Grapes are not associated with 
wine in Japan, but the plant is 
much admired for its beauty. 



Waves, Fishing Nets, and Pine 

49.8 x 33.7 cm. 
Purchase, Norvin Hewitt 
GteenGift, 1946-104-6 

The dramatic impact of this 
stencil is intensified by the 
enetgetic motion of the waves 
and by the large areas of dark 
color (undoubtedly blue indigo) 
that would predominate in the 
final product. 




Bridges and Bats on a Lattice 

20.3 x 34.8 cm. 
Gift of Helen Snydet, 
1976-103-12 

Bats are considered an auspi- 
cious omen, in part because 
elements of the name can be 
written with the ideograph 
which means good fortune. Bats 
also symbolize longevity. 




Bracken Fronds and Water 

19.5 x 35.7 cm. 
Gift of Helen Snyder, 
1976-103-61 

The reference to cooling water 
and shade-loving plants in this 
graceful pattern suggests that it 
was intended for summer wear. 



Waves, Fishing Nets, and Pine 

49.8 x 33.7 cm. 
Purchase, Norvin Hewitt 
Green Gift, 1946-104-6 

The dramatic impact of this 
stencil is intensified by the 
energetic motion of the waves 
and by the large areas of dark 
color (undoubtedly blue indigo) 
that would predominate in the 
final product. 




Bridges and Bats on a Lattice 

20.3 x 34.8 cm. 
Gift of Helen Snydet, 
1976-103-12 

Bats are considered an auspi- 
cious omen, in part because 
elements of the name can be 
written with the ideograph 
which means good fortune. Bats 
also symbolize longevity. 





Bracken Fronds and Warer 

19.5x35.7 cm. 
Gift of Helen Snyder, 
1976-103-61 

The reference to cooling water 
and shade-loving plants in this 
graceful pattern suggests that it 
was intended for summer wear. 




Plank Bridge over an Iris Pond 

18.7 x 34 cm. 

Gift of Helen Snyder, 

1976-103-97 

The eight-plank bridge cross- 
ing an iris pond is one of the 
most poetic of traditional gar- 
den motifs. The planks allow 
one to stroll silently through 
nature, observing the world 
above and the world below the 
surface of the water. 



Maple Leaves Reflected in 
Rippling Streams 

19.6 x 36.5 cm. 
Gift of Helen Snyder, 
1976-103-63 

Excursions made for the pur- 
pose of viewing natural objects 
of beauty are a tradition that 
approaches a cult among the 
Japanese. The autumn foliage- 
viewing ceremony is one of 
these perennial observances. 
The ideograph for maple is 
made up of the elements for tree 
and wind, conjuring a delight- 
ful auditory sensation of rus- 
tling leaves. The delicate out- 
lining of the leaves against 
water in this stencil conveys the 
idea of the inevitability of na- 
ture; eventually the leaves will 
fall and float downstream. 



























j^^^ fs 
















^^^^S 








|^fc~~ "ac^ ^^ "^ 


















'■^^frs^z? 



















Waves and Skates on a Lattice 

50.5 X35.5 cm. 
Gift of Helen Snyder, 
1976-103-270 

The stylized froth of the waves' 
curling edges recalls the same 
convention seen in prints by 
Hokusai and Hiroshige. War- 
riors favored the wave motif for 
their crests because it sym- 
bolized power and resilience. 
The liveliness of this design and 
the unusual choice of skates 
frolicking in the swirling 
waves, with the lattice back- 
ground holding it all together, 
speak of an inventive and daring 
designer. The open areas sug- 
gest that a secondary stencil 
was used to embellish the 
design. 




Arrow Feathers 



46.7 x 34 cm. 

Gift of Helen Snyder, 

1976-103-289 

The literary phrase for military 
life in Japan was "the way of the 
bow and arrow. " The arrow's 
notch and its feathers worked 
well for heraldic crests and they 
appear frequently in stencils. 










^^-^^ ^ '"^7 uS jgH ES^r! 


El3TZ^ OlS»J»^^^Bi«Si' > 2e 














sSL^^es^ 















Umbrellas (Cart Wheels?), 
Water, and Pine Needle 
Clusters 

19.5 X35 cm. 

Gift of Helen Snyder, 

1976-103-103 

While it would not be inconsis- 
tent with the nature of umbrel- 
las to be associated with water, 
the motif of wooden cart wheels 
in a stream is not uncommon 
in Japanese design. The wheels 
were soaked periodically in 
order to prevent their drying 
out. In either case, whether 
wheels or umbrellas, the pat- 
tern shows how a mundane, 
utilitarian object can be trans- 
formed into a beautifully 
rhythmic design. 



Umbrellas on a Lattice 

19.5 x 35.2 cm. 
Gift of Helen Snyder, 
1976-103-58 

In this stencil the use of every- 
day objects for a design motif is 
carried to its limit, but the 
lighthearted way in which the 
circular forms are tumbled onto 
the grid creates an undeniably 
pleasing pattern. 




Arrow Feathers 



46.7 x 34 cm. 

Gift of Helen Snyder, 

1976-103-289 

The literary phrase for military 
life in Japan was "the way of the 
bow and arrow. " The arrow's 
notch and its feathers worked 
well for heraldic crests and they 
appear frequently in stencils. 





Umbrellas on a Lattice 

19.5 x 35.2 cm. 
Gift of Helen Snyder, 
1976-103-58 

In this stencil the use of every- 
day objects for a design motif is 
carried to its limit, but the 
lighthearted way in which the 
circular forms are tumbled onto 
the grid creates an undeniably 
pleasing pattern. 



Umbrellas (Cart Wheels?), 
Water, and Pine Needle 
Clusters 

19.5x35 cm. 

Gift of Helen Snyder, 

1976-103-103 

While it would not be inconsis- 
tent with the nature of umbrel- 
las to be associated with water, 
the motif of wooden cart wheels 
in a stream is not uncommon 
in Japanese design. The wheels 
were soaked periodically in 
order to prevent their drying 
out. In either case, whether 
wheels or umbrellas, the pat- 
tern shows how a mundane, 
utilitarian object can be trans- 
formed into a beautifully 
rhythmic design. 




Water Pattern 



19 x 34.2 cm. 

Gift of Helen Snyder, 

1976-103-111 

The illusory effect of three di- 
mensions and movement in this 
water pattern seems absolutely 
current. 




f!^§?l^§+ 






+• !^W4!^+ 













Geometric Pattern Imitating 
Flame Stitch 

19.4 x 35 cm. 

Gift of Helen. Snyder, 

1976-103-1 10 

The imitation of flame stitch is 
only one imaginative aspect of 
this exceedingly lively, undu- 
lating, broken-stripe design. 
The illusion of surface activity is 
accomplished by varying the 
width of the irregularly curving 
stripes. 




++ +■+ 



Hemp Leaf and Well-cover 

Motifs 

14 x 34.7 cm. 

Gift of Helen Snyder, 

1976-103-105 

Hemp was one of the five basic 
crops of ancient China. In Japan 
it provided thread, rope, and 
cloth, and was used to make the 
pendants displayed at Shinto 
shrines. Here the six-pointed 
hemp leaves form a geometric 
pattern. The crossed double 
bars resemble the wooden reen- 
forcements of a well-cover. 



Water Pattern 



19 x 34.2 cm. 

Gift of Helen Snyder, 

1976-103-1 1 1 

The illusory effect of three di- 
mensions and movement in this 
water pattern seems absolutely 
current. 




vvpur\ik 



Geometric Pattern Imitating 
Flame Stitch 

19.4 x 35 cm. 

Gift of Helen.Snyder, 

1976-103-110 

The imitation of flame stitch is 
only one imaginative aspect of 
this exceedingly lively, undu- 
lating, broken-stripe design. 
The illusion of surface activity is 
accomplished by varying the 
width of the irregularly curving 
stripes. 




Hemp Leaf and Well-cover 
Motifs 

14 x 34.7 cm. 

Gift of Helen Snyder, 

1976-103-105 

Hemp was one of the five basic 
crops of ancient China. In Japan 
it provided thread, rope, and 
cloth, and was used to make the 
pendants displayed at Shinto 
shrines. Here the six-pointed 
hemp leaves form a geometric 
pattern. The crossed double 
bars resemble the wooden reen- 
forcements of a well-cover. 



Bibliography 



Dimensions given are for the 
design area, that is, the full re- 
peat. Stencils that repeat in only 
one direction are oriented in 
that direction in the reproduc- 
tion. 



Blakemore, Frances. Japanese 
Design through Textile Patterns. 
New "Vbrk and Tokyo: Weather- 
hill, 1978. 

Dower, John W. The Elements of 
Japanese Design: A Handbook of 
Family Crests, Heraldry & Sym- 
bolism. New ""fork and Tokyo: 
Weatherhill, 1978. 



Mizoguchi, Saburo. Arts of 
Japan I: Design Motifs. New "Vbrk 
and Tokyo: Weatherhill, 1973. 

Stern, Harold P. Birds, Beasts, 
Blossoms and Bugs. New "Vbrk: 
Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1976. 

Sugihara, Nobuhiko. Katagami: 
Stencil Papers for Dyework in 
Japan. Kyoto: Kyoto National 
Museum, 1968. 

"Vamanobe, Tomoyuki. Old Tex- 
tile Arts Transmitted in Japan. 
Tokyo: Mainichi Shimbun, 
1975- 



Catalogue by Elaine Evans Dee 
and Thomas S. Michie 



Design Lazin & Katalan 















and lo 






Nan 



- 






%^ 



SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION LIBRARIES 




3 9088 012855946 



V-V*f